Preparation & safe viewing tips for the total solar eclipse - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Preparation & safe viewing tips for the total solar eclipse

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La Crosse, WI (WXOW) -

August 2017 will be remembered for the astronomical event of The Great American Total Solar Eclipse. It is forecasted to cross the entire United States on August 21st.

This will be the first total solar eclipse to cross the continental United States in 99 years, and if you're prepared for this event beforehand you will have plenty of time to see the predicted 82 percent solar eclipse in the Eau Claire area.

The science behind the total solar eclipse wasn't always easy to understand like it is nowadays.

The path of totality takes the eclipse from the Pacific Northwest in Oregon, crossing over Lincoln, Nebraska and through the heart of the United States. It will exit on the east coast near Columbia, South Carolina. Eau Claire will see a near 82 percent  eclipse, which would cause street lights to turn on during the day. The starting time for the event will be near 11:45 am with peak viewing times, locally, at roughly 1:10 pm. Everything will come to an end by 2:30 pm.

If you are out viewing the celestial event, you'll want to steer clear of regular sunglasses and go for eclipse shades or viewing it indirectly. Eclipse shades help to deflect more of the sun's radiation. Looking directly at the sun during the eclipse can cause serious eye damage.

Kendra Galbrecht, an optometrist with Optical Fashions in La Crosse, explains the consequences of looking directly at the eclipse. Dr. Galbrecht adds, "Solar eclipse blindness is an actual thing. The amount of radiation from the sun can cause permanent, very serious damage to a structure inside your eyes called the retinal. And, it can actually even lead to permanent vision loss or blindness."

Peak time is happening while the sun is high in the sky and therefore you won't have to run for the bluffs to get a good view. Ultimately, Mother Nature will be responsible for how good the viewing conditions will be on August 21.

There was an eclipse in 1979, but only those residing in Washington, North Dakota, and Canada were able to see it. If you're looking forward to the next total solar eclipse, that is scheduled to zoom southwest to northeast across the entire United States in 2024.

If you happen to travel for this event, you are within a 70 mile radius of the path of totality, and if skies remain clear, it is likely you will see this celestial phenomenon. There are many festivities and festivals happening in small town locations along the path that will see a 100 percent total solar eclipse.

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